Would You Pay $260 for Xbox Live? Technically, I Just Did

Illustration for article titled Would You Pay $260 for Xbox Live? Technically, I Just Did

Helplessly watching this sweating man thrust all of his body weight into my bedroom wall, grunting over the whine of the drill, I realized I was seeing and participating in the perfect metaphor for my attempts to connect my Xbox 360 to the Internet in my new home.

"Man," he said, "you're a real tough 'un." I couldn't tell if he was addressing me, the drill, or whatever it was he was trying to bore through.

Let's back up. About three weeks ago I moved into a house I'm buying in my hometown. It was built in 1958. Its original walls are cinderblock. Sometime in the 1960s, its owners added a master bedroom, a deck, and a downstairs den. One of the bedrooms in the original layout is the office where I am now writing this. All of my video game consoles are in the downstairs den. An Internet signal needs to reach both. Those cinderblock walls prevent that.


After my cable internet was connected two weeks ago I went downstairs, punched on the Xbox 360, and was not at all surprised to see it could not find my wireless router. At my old dwelling, I had the console right next to the router, purchased in March, back in my old apartment, and the 360 frequently dropped the connection. I would sometimes get warnings in games about the goddamn NAT setting being "strict" and needing to be changed to "open," and I'd dutifully google what the hell that meant and still have no way to change whatever it was talking about. Eventually I just gave up in a huff of resentment and hardwired my 360 with Ethernet. I'm here to play video games, not fuck around with advanced networking. If I wanted to do that, I'd play on a PC.

The PlayStation 3 rarely had the same problem. I don't care if it's equipment, Internet provider or what. In my experience, the 360 has been a temperamental Princess-and-the-Pea piece of equipment when it comes to networking. So while the signal downstairs wasn't great, I could still use my laptop and my iPhone and even connect to PlayStation Network. The 360, naturally, couldn't even find the router on a scan.

I had two options: Essentially open a second Internet service account with the local cable monopoly, and pay $120 a month, or try to find some way to position my router so that it could reach every device that needed a signal in the house. The only location was directly overhead of the consoles in the downstairs—in the master bedroom. There was no coaxial outlet in that bedroom. So I called an electrician.

The visit would be $85 and then $60 an hour after the first half-hour of work. Sounded reasonable. I only needed the guy to drill into the drywall and then thread a cable down into a small utility area underneath the stairwell to the downstairs. From there I could hook it to the feeder line coming in from the street. It seemed simple, as the wall already had an electrical socket that I assumed was provisioned from the downstairs.


Well, it wasn't that simple. About an hour in, the electrician had cut a hole in the wall and what looked like a long piece of fishing pole was dangling out of it, and he was using a hook and an angled mirror to position an elongated drill bit.

"Man, I'm onna tell you what, I ain't had a challenge like this in a while," he said. Or at least I think that's what he said. If you took Boomhauer from King of the Hill and made him a teacher in a Charlie Brown special, that's what he sounded like. He was a friendly and earnest enough guy, I just had to ask him to repeat himself constantly.


It got real tense when he finally reseated the bit in the hole he had bored and yet it wouldn't drill through. It did go sideways through the drywall in my stairwell, however. He stammered profuse apologies, which I immediately accepted. I knew this was an unusual case. "I think we're hittin' metal," he said. "You got any steel beams between here and there?"

I said I had no idea, and dreaded the thought of it being true. "Well, I guess we'll find out," he said. He went out to his van and brought back another elongated bit. He fitted it into the hole, squeezed the trigger and started leaning. For what seemed like a solid minute, the drill didn't move. It had as much tension as a submarine thriller. I kept watching, waiting to see his hands descend, indicating that he'd plowed a channel through which life-giving Internet could be borne. Nothing.


Then, finally, his eyes widened. "Yep!" Slowly, he leaned on the drill, pushing it through. The whine changed to a lower frequency, and he grinned. He'd pushed through. He triumphantly removed the drill and held the bit up to my nostril, nearly burning it. "Smell 'at! That's wood!" He had to go through some kind of plate or bracket, but he did.

It took another hour to finish up the wiring, but he did. He went back to his van to retrieve a price list and figure up the final bill as I agonized over what this would cost. Xbox Live is $60. How many multiples of that would I be spending? He handed me the total.


It was $260.44. And as he did, I swear, he smoked a cigarette.

Hey folks, Something Negative is a rant. Love it or hate it, we all need to blow off steam on Fridays. Let yours out in the comments.

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"not fuck around with advanced networking. If I wanted to do that, I'd play on a PC."

I play on a PC and I have never had to fuck around with my network anywhere near as much as I had to with my old 360. That thing is an absolute nightmare on most routers.

Most PC games used dedicated servers which don't rely on NAT and a strict NAT will very rarely ever stop you connection to a server. Most console games use Peer to Peer systems that rely heavily on NAT since they connect to other players, so not only is your NAT a problem, but the NAT of the person the game has chosen to host is also a factor.

To put it simply if you want simple networking for your multi player you got your sides mixed up. PC is the easier and much more reliable side and Consoles tend to be very temperamental with most routers. You also being at the mercy of the hosts connection, if there connection is slow you are going to get a lot of lag. If they leave the game you have to sit there for a minute while it choose's another host or the game just closes.

Not to rub salt in the wound but with the price you paid just to get Xbox Live is almost enough to build a gaming PC around 4x the power of the 360. the cost being £300, about $400 BUT parts are much more expensive in the UK than they are in the US so you could probably get it down to $300, you will also make a saving on games generally being cheaper, not having to pay for live every year, STEAM SALES! and not having to go see the Otolaryngologist (ear doctor) every two weeks after listening to screaming racist kids for a few hours a day.